Blog | Social enterprise

Get fit for growth in 2019

Want to grow your business in 2019? Looking to attract new investment? Not sure if your organisation is fit for growth?

By Mike Erskine · December 12, 2018

See this page in: Cymraeg

Picture of Paul Ashman

By Paul Ashman

Social Business Wales Project Manager, Wales Co-operative Centre

Growing a social business can be seen as a route to improved sustainability and social impact. However, like preparing for a marathon, it must not be taken lightly or in an organic, unplanned way.

Points to consider – before you buy that pair of running shoes:

  • Growth, as such, may not necessarily contribute to the achievement of the social mission. Growth for growth’s sake is sometimes an indication of mission drift.
  • Growth may improve business performance but this is not always the case. It is worth looking at Business Planning for a Social Business.
  • Growth may improve the strength of the business, especially if it generates profits and enables the recruitment of a stronger and more capable team. But it may also generate a high-risk situation, where relatively small fluctuations in profitability or cash flow on the larger turnover can overwhelm a small capital base or low cash reserves. A situation known as ‘over-trading’.
runner tie shoelaces

Assuming that these considerations have been taken into account, a social business can start to consider the routes to growth. But before you get yourself on that treadmill, you will need to assess the fitness of your organisation:

Key questions to ask yourself:

  1. FinancesHow financially healthy is your organisation? Is financial information used to measure progress? Is cash flow being managed effectively? Are assets being utilised to their full potential? Is there a plan for financing the organisational strategy?
  2. StrategyWhat is your long term strategy? Who is involved in shaping the direction of the organisation? Are day-today activities aligned to the overall strategy? Do you measure progress against your strategic plan?
  3. Social and environmental impactDo you measure your social and environmental impact? Can you evidence the good work you do? Are you aware of the Well Being of Future Generations Act?
  4. Income generation – Does the organisation have a range of income sources which provide a stable revenue base for future sustainability? Is there a culture of innovation? How are new ideas appraised? What are the opportunities for growth?
  5. Marketing – How effective is your marketing? Have you considered alternative routes to market? Do team members have the right skills to market and sell effectively? Is your brand fit for purpose?

Next steps – hiring that personal trainer

At Social Business Wales, we can offer a fresh pair of eyes to help you assess the strength, shape or condition of your organisation, check how effectively the business is running and highlight areas that need attention.

What’s more, we can put together a bespoke package of support to help you make improvements so your business can grow. Our expert team of Business Advisors are backed up by specialist consultants in areas including governance, operations, finance and marketing. And because Social Business Wales is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government as part of Business Wales, it’s a free service.

Case studies

Examples of social businesses we have worked with across Wales to help grow, expand, diversify, collaborate and transform:

Social Business Wales website

 

To find out if you are eligible for SBW support, email: sbwenquiries@wales.coop

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